Women’s Plus Size Clothing

It used to be that plus size women were excluded from fashionable attire that didn’t carry their sizes and relegated to the frumpy aisle. Times have changed, and now there are clothing businesses that cater exclusively to the plus size women. Stores like Torrid and Lane Bryant carry women’s clothing that’s far from size 0 and still trendy. Women’s plus size clothing is now a market in its own right.

Perhaps it’s a development influenced by the influx of positive plus size women role models that have come into the spotlight like Mo’Nique, Queen Latifah, Nikki Blonsky, America Ferrera and Beth Ditto, who contradict the thin body ideal that the media perpetuates. They deliver the message that you can be “full-figured” and still be beautiful. Plus size women don’t have to be ashamed of their bodies, and they should love themselves the way they are. And they should be able to wear pretty clothes just like all the other women out there. It’s about time women’s plus size clothing hit the market.

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But even though plus size is gaining acceptance, it still clashes with the prevalent idea that thinness is desirable. The billboard aren’t all going to be replaced with plus size models anytime soon, and being overweight still carries stigma in our society. Some reject the concept of plus size solely on the grounds of superficiality and our culture has reinforced certain ideas about attractiveness that are ingrained in us throughout our lives wherever we go. Others point to the health issues of being overweight, especially at a time where obesity and diabetes are becoming alarming epidemics. It’s a positive thing to encourage all women to accept themselves no matter what body shape, but the fact remains that certain body shapes are more prone to risks of cardiovascular disease and strokes than others. Maybe it’s okay to be happy and satisfied with being a little overweight, but where do you draw the line at the point where it’s not okay anymore? The issue of plus size brings all the factors of cultural standards of beauty, self-esteem and health into conflict.

One matter of contention is the normalization of being overweight. Women’s plus size clothing can be seen as a positive, inclusive development in one perspective, and as a permission of dangerous health risks in another. There’s a valid point here, but it also assumes that plus size women are responsible for their being overweight, and while this is often true, it’s not always the case. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this case, but surely we can all agree that all people regardless of shape and size deserve the right to be clothed? There’s room for women’s plus size clothing in the market.

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